Thursday, October 21, 2010

Was NPR Unfair to Juan Williams?

NPR Radio has terminated Juan Williams, highly respected civil rights activist and NPR host, after comments he made on the O'Reilly Factor with Bill O'Reilly.

Juan Williams, "Look, Bill, I'm not a bigot. You know the kind of books I've written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous."

To be fair, Williams argued against blaming all Muslims as "extremists," saying Christians shouldn't be blamed for Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.

I wholeheartedly agree with both comments, and it's rare that I agree with anything Mr. Williams has to say. I face this dilemna everyday of my life. When I sit down on a flight, after being puffed by the puffing machine, patted down by a burly invasive female security officer, and stared down by the mind readers, I immediately look around to see who looks like the real terrorist aboard. (For some reason Homeland Security has me on the "watch out for that extremist kook" list.) I'm proud to be poked and prodded like a prime heifer ready for slaughter. Why? Because it means someone is looking out the welfare of every passenger on that flight, and that includes my fine flanks.

So is it fair for NPR to terminate such a respected advocate for social justice just because he had the gumpta to speak what everyone else on that plane is thinking? I think not and NPR is playing scared. They have become so politically correct should they even be called NPR anymore? Do they represent the nation or not?

Juan Williams' comment referring to the Muslim's choice to identify himself and set himself apart is starkly accurate. My husband has family members that specifically try to make statements and defy someone to remark on their religious choice. They twist prayer beads on their rearview mirrors, attach them to their key rings, and keep a copy of "A Brief Illustrated Guide to Understanding Islam", in their rear car window just in case someone missed the fourteen pounds of beads. They want an opportunity to fight for their religion.

I believe in the rights of all religions, if you want to pray to the praying mantis, I'll not take issue with it. So for the Muslims, I say pray away. But if you come on a flight dressed to 'blow up', with the look of jihad on your face, don't be offended by the comments you might elicit as you scare the bejesus out of some little old lady.

1 comment:

  1. How exactly does someone come on a flight dressed to 'blow up'?
    And what is the with the look of jihad?
    Do you even know what jihad means? If you're struggling to get to your gate on time and carry your bags, you would by definition have a look of jihad on your face:)

    You're saying a Muslim who either wears a headscarf or loose clothing looks like a terrorist? Have any of the hijackers dressed in headscarves? To think that you're going to see someone who looks like a terrorist is laughable, because anyone would know better than to look like one. Plus no amount of clothing is going to make a Middle Eastern/Arab man (which is supposedly the ID marker of a terrorist these days) not look like a Middle Eastern/Arab man.

    Besides, if people show up in this self-identifying Muslim garb, don't you think they already know the consequences they are going to face going through security already? I knew when I decided to wear the headscarf, things were going to be more difficult for me at airports, but I deal with it just like everyone else. I don't look like a terrorist either, so I have every right to complain and feel offended.

    And what is "Muslim garb"? Since Muslims can be from any ethnicity and nationality, there is no such thing as Muslim garb. And why if a Muslims decides to wear a scarf or carry prayer beads is that trying to identify themselves? Being Muslim isn't something you turn off or on, like a part in a play with certain costumes and props for the right effect. Being Muslim is a lifestyle just like being American, so it's not something you dress up for as you travel.

    You are who you are and by being around others who are different than you, you are naturally going to look different. If people can identify that you're of a certain faith (which you can't for Muslims) then that's something bad? Are the only good Muslims the ones that you can't identify? Maybe the members of your husband's family are arrogant and showoffs about their religion, but all Muslims aren't and that's very juvenile to assume so.

    So I'm sorry but I don't see how Williams or your statements are accurate or sensible at all.
    NPR didn't fire him based on what he said specifically; it's the fact that he violated his journalistic objectivity and credibility by giving his opinion. I don't care if people want to say stupid things and say everyone feels that way, but don't expect to keep your job or credible reputation as a civil rights activist after doing so.